Due to cell-cycle dysregulation, many cancer cells contain more than the normal compliment of centrosomes, a state referred to as centrosome amplification (CA). CA can drive oncogenic phenotypes and indeed can cause cancer in flies and mammals. However, cells have to actively manage CA, often by centrosome clustering, in order to divide. Thus, CA is also an Achilles' Heel of cancer cells. In recent years, there have been many important studies identifying proteins required for the management of CA and it has been demonstrated that disruption of some of these proteins can cause cancer-specific inhibition of cell growth. For certain targets therapeutically relevant interventions are being investigated, for example, small molecule inhibitors, although none are yet in clinical trials. As the field is now poised to move towards clinically relevant interventions, it is opportune to summarise the key work in targeting CA thus far, with particular emphasis on recent developments where small molecule or other strategies have been proposed. We also highlight the relatively unexplored paradigm of reversing CA, and thus its oncogenic effects, for therapeutic gain.
RAS proteins are small GTPases that regulate signalling networks that control cellular proliferation and survival. They are frequently mutated in cancer and a commonly occurring group of developmental disorders called RASopathies. We discuss recent findings describing how RAS isoforms and different activating mutations differentially contribute to normal and disease-associated biology and the mechanisms that have been proposed to underpin this.
Post-translational modification of proteins by ubiquitylation is increasingly recognised as a highly complex code that contributes to the regulation of diverse cellular processes. In humans, a family of almost 100 deubiquitylase enzymes (DUBs) are assigned to six subfamilies and many of these DUBs can remove ubiquitin from proteins to reverse signals. Roles for individual DUBs have been delineated within specific cellular processes, including many that are dysregulated in diseases, particularly cancer. As potentially druggable enzymes, disease-associated DUBs are of increasing interest as pharmaceutical targets. The biology, structure and regulation of DUBs have been extensively reviewed elsewhere, so here we focus specifically on roles of DUBs in regulating cell cycle processes in mammalian cells. Over a quarter of all DUBs, representing four different families, have been shown to play roles either in the unidirectional progression of the cell cycle through specific checkpoints, or in the DNA damage response and repair pathways. We catalogue these roles and discuss specific examples. Centrosomes are the major microtubule nucleating centres within a cell and play a key role in forming the bipolar mitotic spindle required to accurately divide genetic material between daughter cells during cell division. To enable this mitotic role, centrosomes undergo a complex replication cycle that is intimately linked to the cell division cycle. Here, we also catalogue and discuss DUBs that have been linked to centrosome replication or function, including centrosome clustering, a mitotic survival strategy unique to cancer cells with supernumerary centrosomes.
RAS proteins are key signalling hubs that are oncogenically mutated in 30% of all cancer cases. Three genes encode almost identical isoforms that are ubiquitously expressed, but are not functionally redundant. The network responses associated with each isoform and individual oncogenic mutations remain to be fully characterized. In the present article, we review recent data defining the differences between the RAS isoforms and their most commonly mutated codons and discuss the underlying mechanisms.